It’s time to have a frank talk about sex with your dentist

By Anne Blythe April 25, 2020 Metro City Q

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If Zachary Brian, head of the North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative, has his way, your next visit to the dentist could also include a conversation about sex.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness month. One of the two most distinct routes through which people get cancer in the mouth, on the base of the tongue, tonsils, or side and back walls of the throat is from a human papillomavirus strain known as the HPV-16 virus that can be spread through oral sex.

Tobacco use, smokeless tobacco products, as well as heavy alcohol consumption also have been linked to oral cancer.

This month, during a most unprecedented time in health care, many dentists’ offices are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the greater risk the dental and hygienist workforce has for contracting and transmitting the virus.

Brian says it’s still a good time to find out more about oral cancer and the increase in HPV-related cases. “It’s so important,” he said.

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